Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

The Mike Alstott Theorem, for those of you who care.

Always respect farm equipment--better to be safe than sorry: [Maryland] State police say a Carroll County man died when the tractor he was operating rolled over as he worked in his yard. It happened around 10 a.m. Wednesday in the 4600 block of Kridlers Schoolhouse Road in Manchester. Police say the tractor toppled over and caught fire after 63-year-old Eugene Woodhouse drove up a slight incline with the front-loader bucket filled with rocks, trapping him beneath the tractor.

That intense burning sensation could be lightning, and not just that freaky crowd control weapon they built: "Things not people" now appears to be the focus of the the famed lightning weapons maker once known as Ionatron. The company, now known as Applied Energetics, was presenting this week at the Department of Homeland Security's science and technology conference in Washington. I missed the talk, but lucky for us, MountainRunner was there and can bring us up to date. Perhaps the most interesting news is that the company, which initially attracted investors with ambitious promises of a revolutionary nonlethal lightning gun, appears now to have thrown this idea out the window. "[T]hey are NOT looking to anti-personnel applications," MountainRunner tells us. "They said that's just an area that's too much of a headache and they'd rather let Taser walk that minefield and they'll focus on anti-IED and anti-vehicle application (things not persons)." Given the company's change in name, this isn't totally surprising, but it is the first time I remember hearing about the company actually jettisoning its focus on nonlethals. The key company pitch these days appears to be countering improvised explosive devices, which is also not a surprise. But the presenter, company VP Tom Donaldson, a retired rear admiral, apparently talked a lot about moving into vehicle-stopping applications. "They found that for disabling cars, the best place to aim for is the base of the windshield," says MountainRunner, who attended the talk. "This stalls, not disables, the car by shorting - not frying, but the amount of electricity is adjustable. They found that targeting the hood looks neat but isn't the best place to aim."

We have known for seventeen months that the minority republicans in the Senate are petty, vindictive assholes; and now that fact is part of the congressional record
because Harry Reid got hold of one of their strategy memos and read it in. I particularly like this part, about how the world can do a slow burn so far as Chinless Mitch McConnell is concerned, he has political hay to make! The thinking now is to still use as much of the 30 hours post-cloture on the motion to proceed for debate on thematically-grouped amendments. The goal is for a theme (example: climate bill equals higher gas prices) each day, and the focus is much more on making political points than in amending the bill, changing the baseline text for any future debate or affecting policy...GOP anticipates a struggle over which amendments are debated and eventually finger- pointing over blame for demise of the bill. In the GOP view, this will take at least the rest of this week, and hopefully into next week.... There it is folks, your republican party circa 2008. What a pathetic, fetid, quivering, cowardly bunch of chickenshits. Kentucky, you gotta get rid of McConnell. The state that gives us the Thoroughbreds from Claiborne Farm, kick-ass bluegrass, and Makers Mark fine Kentucky bourbon deserves better than to be represented by that diseased old prick.

The Media Mancrush™ continues unabated
In an article discussing Sen. Barack Obama's and Sen. John McCain's positions on direct diplomacy with Iran, the AP reported that "Condoleezza Rice, a key player for eight years in the Bush administration's strategy to try to isolate Iran, told AIPAC on Tuesday that there is no point engaging Iran 'while they continue to inch closer to a nuclear weapon under the cover of talks.' " But, while noting that Madeleine Albright took a different position in a speech two years ago, the article did not note that President Bush's own secretary of defense, Robert Gates, has also reportedly said the United States should "sit down and talk" with Iran.

Obama goes after Mc$ame on health care
Enjoying his first campaign foray as the nominee, Obama took the opportunity to mock McCain for his pathetic healthcare proposals. "Like George Bush, Senator McCain has a plan to only take care of the healthy and the wealthy," Obama said, calling McCain's plan 'Bush-lite.' "Instead of offering a comprehensive plan, like I have, to cover all Americans, and control rising costs, he's offering a tax cut that doesn't even amount to half of the cost of an average family health care plan, and won't make health care affordable for the hard-working Americans," he said.

Home equity plummets to lowest level since WWII
The portion of home equity held by Americans fell to just 46.2% in the first quarter. It was the fifth consecutive quarter that the rate was under 50%. The total dollar value of equity also fell for the fourth straight quarter to $9.12 trillion from $9.52 trillion in the fourth quarter, while Americans’ total mortgage debt rose to $10.6 trillion from $10.53 trillion. Equity is expected to continue declining as falling home prices erode home values, dragging more homeowners “upside down” on their mortgages.

Shall we start the Musharref-steps-down pool?
We are keeping an eye on the situation in Pakistan, where the new government is in power and pressure is mounting on Musharref to step down as the countries President. Pakistan is always a concern, because they have nuclear weapons, and it is in the interest of the entire world that they not fall into the wrong hands. Oh well, if you're goin' to hell on a handcart, you might as well enjoy the ride, so let's have a little fun with this. Leave your guess on when he caves to the pressure and steps down in comments, and we will send the winner one of the "McSame" bumper stickers like the one at the top of the blog.

Turkey's Constitutional Court throws our headscarf reform
, ruling that a vote by parliament to ease a ban on scarves being worn on campuses violated the constitution's secular principles. The government had argued that the ban on headscarves prevented some women from being educated. The secular establishment had resisted the loosening of the ban, saying it was a step towards allowing Islam to figure more largely in Turkish public life. The ruling could foreshadow the outcome of a separate court case in which the ruling AK Party (AKP) could be banned for anti-secular activities. 71 members of the party, including the prime minister and the president, could also be banned from belonging to any political party for five years.

France deports genocide suspect
The French government has deported Dominique Ntawukuriryayo, a former regional governor, to the UN Rwandan war crimes tribunal convened in Tanzania. He stands accused of taking part in the massacre of some 25,000 Tutsis over a five-day period in April 1994.

There is a big damned difference between losing and quitting
and we get that. That is why we never begrudged a primary season that saw all 50 states matter and the numbers finally come together only after the last polls were closed. She ran a hell of a race and might have won it all if she had only fired never hired Mark Penn...

Comandante 2 is back
Actually, she never went away - and neither did her determination to defeat dictatorial elements in Nicaragua. Dora María Téllez, now 52, set up a hammock in downtown Managua a few days ago and started a hunger strike. Her intent is to ''sound the alarm bell'' against what she says are President Daniel Ortega's authoritarian intentions. Téllez, who is on a water and salt diet, says that Ortega and incarcerated former President Arnoldo Alemán -- who is still considered the ''maximum leader'' of the opposition Liberal Constitutional Party -- are in the process of reworking their infamous power-sharing pact to re-divide state institutions and cut out minority parties.

No comments: